Santiago Creek extension to Flower St.

commentary by Pete van Nuys

Santiago extension runs west under the I-5 from this junction south of Main Place in Orange.

Scary underpass is paved and lighting is already installed for future connection.

Neighbors who’ve enjoyed a private creek setting behind their back yards are understandably opposed to this public trail extension.  They claim the creek is
“natural.”   They’re confusing natural with feral.

Well worn “social trail” has existed for decades along the creek. private property lines extend toward the creek bed center.

No laughing matter: “yucca” and other landscape material from the 50s and 60s pervade the stream course.

I walked the section from the I-5 underpass to Fisher Park about 7AM one morning.
I’m no botanist but have enough Scout left in me to know a few native plants when I see ’em and I saw very few: sycamores, a couple different willows, Indian tobacco, elderberry, that’s all I could ID.

Grian Reed (Arundo donax) is so purvasive many people think it’s native. It’s an invasive exotic that crowds out California raparian species.

Without maintenance trash accumulates with every heavy rain and grafitti remains unchecked.

But I saw plenty of invasive species typical of Southern California stream courses where exotics outnumber the native plants. And landscaping material that “escaped” the backyards years ago.

Invasive ivy cascades from a cantilevered deck.

The trail leads directly into Fisher Park.

I also saw public stairways leading down from Fisher Park, now fenced off, which tells me the creek bed was at one time considered public. Now the well worn social trail suggests a great case for proscriptive easement.

Two stairways from decades past make their way down to the stream course. Here’s the eastern one.


Here’s the western stairway where Santa Ana citizens left Fisher Park to stroll the stream bed in the 30s and 40s.

The trail should be developed as a MultiUse Path, not just to the park but beyond to the Santa Ana River Trail. The creek is narrow west of Flower, but widens again west of Bristol to the SART. A well engineered trail could survive even down in the watercourse, flooding during storms but dry and ridable most of the year.

-edited by Sprocket

-update: According to the Santa Ana Circulation Element (pdf) portion of its General Plan under Bikeway Master Plan :

“An existing Class I bikeway runs along the banks of the Santa Ana River, the Southern Pacific railroad tracks to the south, the Santa Ana Gardens Channel,  Flower Street, and along Maple Street. Proposed Class I bikeways are planned  along Santiago Creek. A linkage to connect the Maple Street trail to the Alton  Street trails is also planned.”

Please note it says planned, not tomorrow!